Hot teams collide as Blue Jackets host Flames (Nov 22, 2017)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Two surging teams with hot goaltenders face off Wednesday night when the Calgary Flames continue their road trip with a visit to Nationwide Arena to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Flames (12-8-0) have won two in a row at the start of their six-game trip and three of their last four overall. They're 6-2 so far in November games.
The Blue Jackets (13-7-1) have equaled a season high with a four-game win streak and they're 5-3-1 this month.
Both teams won the road Monday night. The Flames defeated the Capitals 4-1 in Washington and the Blue Jackets held on for a 3-2 victory over the Sabres in Buffalo.
Flames goaltender Mike Smith has a 5-1 record this month with a 3.11 goals-against average and a .907 saves percentage. He is coming off a 29-save effort against the Capitals.
"There's no other way to say it. He's an elite goalie," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He's one of the top goalies. There's no question about it in my mind."
Even though Smith is playing well, center Sam Bennett wants the Flames to take some of the pressure off the goalie.
"We've got to limit the amount of chances we're giving up," Bennett said. "Obviously, Smitty's been playing unbelievably for us, but we've got to start bailing him out more, giving less opportunities to (opponents)."
The Flames could find it challenging to score against Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
The two-time Vezina Trophy winner is carrying the Blue Jackets while they struggle to generate goals. In Bobrovsky's last five starts, he is 4-1-0 with a sterling 1.18 goals-against average, a .962 save percentage and one shutout.
Bobrovsky is expected to make his sixth consecutive start against the Flames.
The two teams have plenty of skill and speed. Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau leads Calgary's top line with a career-best 10-game points streak (eight goals, 11 assists).
Sean Monahan has four goals and two assists during Calgary's two-game win streak. Micheal Ferland was riding a six-game points streak that ended Monday.
"They have a lot of similar traits as us," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. "You've got the high-powered offense, the great defensemen and a good goalie. So I'm expecting a great matchup and an exciting game because of the talent out there. We look forward to playing these guys."
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is considering moving Foligno to a wing in an attempt to jump-start his offense. Foligno does not have a point in the past 12 games, which equals the longest stretch in his career.
Tortorella might be inclined to make that switch once center Alexander Wennberg returns. Wennberg has missed three games with an upper-body injury and continues to be day to day.
"Whatever they think is necessary to help our team and be a good lineup, I'm all for it," Foligno said.
The Blue Jackets will get one of their centers back in the lineup. Lukas Sedlak was activated off injured reserve on Tuesday after missing the last 13 games with an ankle injury.
Sedlak was expected to be out as long as six weeks but returned in about four weeks after suffering the injury in practice on Oct. 23. He has scored two goals in eight games this season.
"You don't feel 100 percent every time when you go back," Sedlak said. "I feel good enough that I think I can help the team and be good out there."
The Flames have scored seven power play goals in the past four games and the Blue Jackets rank last in the NHL on the power play. But Calgary is last in the league in penalty killing, which could present Columbus with an opportunity to solve their issues with the man advantage.
Left winger Artemi Panarin has been the Blue Jackets' most effective offensive weapon with four goals in the last seven games. He leads the team in scoring with 15 points.
Right winger Cam Atkinson, who signed a seven-year contract extension last week, will play in his 400th game for the Blue Jackets on Wednesday.
"It's one of those milestones where it's pretty special," Atkinson said.